Seriously! Eating nuts during your pregnancy actually makes your baby smarter (according to standardized tests given years later).
(Important note before reading: if you’re allergic to nuts, don’t worry, I also included alternative food sources containing the same beneficial vitamins/minerals.)
We all know that what we eat during pregnancy is extremely important for fetal development, RIGHT when the brain and other organs are forming.
But there’s not a ton of research on foods that are actually proven to result in higher IQ for the baby…until now.
Seriously! This was a long-term study where women self-reported their diet, and the researchers didn’t know what exactly they’d find (except obviously that a healthy diet would yield good results when checking up on the kids later in life). But despite not looking for this conclusion, they found that the women who ate the most nuts a day had “smarter” kids!!
Walnuts in particular are the only nuts, and one of the ONLY FOODS period, with alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA.
ALA is a type of omega-3 fat that GETS RID of free radicals that damage the body, especially the brain. Free radicals can eventually lead to stroke or Alzheimers. So chomp on those walnuts…For you and your baby’s sake!!
If you can’t stomach walnuts though, don’t fear! You can also get ALA from flaxseed/soybean/canola oil, or tofu. But…that’s about it.
Another omega-3 fatty acid, DHA, is luckily almost as good for fetal brain development. These aren’t in nuts; they’re found in fish and eggs.
If you’re vegan or you don’t like any of these foods — keep in mind there are ALA and DHA supplements, so there really is no excuse for not getting those omega 3s to your baby’s brain!
Anyway, you’re probably thinking, “Wasn’t this about nuts during pregnancy?”
Yes! But again, I know some people are allergic to nuts, obviously, so I just really wanted to make sure I didn’t forget about them!
The unsaturated fats in nuts are great for the developing brain because neural tissue loves to soak these fats up!! Also, nuts have FOLIC acid and we all know that’s essential for pregnancy.
So back to the study…
The best result came from eating three handfuls’ worth of nuts a week. Tthat was the most anyone in the study had eaten, though…So I’m sure there would be no harm in eating more.)
And more important to keep in mind: this effect of producing smarter babies only applied for women who ate nuts during the first trimester. For the women who only ate enough AFTER their first trimester, it didn’t result in smarter babies! Just goes to show that maternal nutrition is most important at that stage.
Like I said, if you don’t go nuts for nuts, then you’ll want to rely on canola oil, fish, eggs, tofu, and other good sources of either ALA or DHA. But if you do like them, nuts during pregnancy is certainly one of the easiest (no cooking) ways to make a baby Einstein!